The Darkness 2 picks up loosely where the first game left off. I say loosely because unlike the previous game, Darkness 2 decided to focus more on the storyline from the original comic series, namely the main villain, Victor, who is leader of the Brotherhood, a secret organization dedicated to harnessing the power of the Darkness.
First you begin at a nice diner as Jackie Estacado, two years after the events from the previous game. While at dinner you are interrupted by a van driving through the window and burning your leg to which causes your friend Victor to drag you out from the restaurant, but before you can get out of the kitchen, it is blown up causing you to release the Darkness once more and begin to go onto a killing spree.
Throughout the game you spend your time trying to find the people who came after you at the restaurant before finally figuring out it is the brotherhood, whom have come to collect the darkness on the debt your father promised them once they found the syphon needed to separate the Darkness from its host. After fighting your way to Victor through henchmen after henchmen you finally get to the final fight which ends with you killing Victor and using the Syphon to kill yourself so you can save Jenny’s soul which has been trapped inside the Darkness.
After fighting the Darkness and reclaiming Jenny’s soul, you come to find she has been possessed by the Angelius which had been previously trapped inside the Darkness along with Jenny’s soul.
Personally, I find this story to be a lot better than the previous game, there were more moments that got my immersed into the game than the previous and although the ending felt like a gimmick to make another one (it just seems to convenient to have her soul trapped, freed and then possessed) but otherwise, the plot felt more deep than just cardboard people doing horrible things to your cardboard girlfriend.
There was also more understanding brought to the players attention than the previous ones. While there was an attempt to explain the Darkness in the first game through the memories of your great grandfather while you were trapped within the Darkness this time around there was a greater understanding of how much of an impact the Darkness has had over history overall, even including relics you find within levels that have lore to them.
The game had a different look to it this time, mostly cel-shading. The game had a very unique visual style, attempting to create the look and feel of a comic book; the game was made by having the games main assets hand-painted instead of relying on computers to emulate a comic style.
As usual the graphics are a step up from the previous game, with a new look and feel to the Darkness and Darkling. There were also a few new faces on your team as well as some you might remember which have all seamlessly blend in perfectly with the new cel-shaded look.
One of the things that made the Darkness unique was its constant dual welding, in the first game, you were given two pistols for your birthday, pistols that seemed to be your very life and soul in the game since you couldn’t seem to use anything else, nor did anyone else in the world for that matter. Pistols seemed to be the only thing everyone in the previous game used.
In Darkness 2 there are a range of new weapons you can equip, ranging from pistols, SMG’s, shotguns to assault rifles. The new mechanic also allowed you to switch between a one or two weapons depending on your ammo or what type of gun you were carrying.
The newest feature included quad-wielding, which allowed you to hold an object with one of the Darkness hands, two guns in yours and whipping enemies with your other Darkness hand. This made murder all the more manageable as the game puts you in more complex fighting situations where you might be forced to fight a guy with a shield and another running at you, so while you take the shield away with one of the Darkness hands you can shoot another running at you then whip the guy you just stole the shield from.
Another feature is ‘dark essence’ which are points you can use to unlock skills or powers for the Darkness to bring greater devastation unlike the previous game where powers were unlocked during certain parts of the campaign. The skill trees were broken up into 4 parts; Execution powers, Gun Powers, two separate Darkness powers.
This added skill tree made your preference in combat more fit to how you play, so if you personally don’t use certain attacks or skills you are not forced to dump points into them, it also made eating hearts or performing certain execution kills worth the effort.
The coolest feature added to the game was Vendettas which is a multi-player mode where four hit men who each have specific Darkness powers go on missions for Jackie which take place behind the main story, so they fit together with what was going on during the single player campaign. The main story behind Vendettas is securing certain Darkness relics that the Brotherhood is trying to use to bring down Jackie. The campaign can be played offline alone or online co-operatively with other people; however there is no option for local co-op.
There is also a spin-off of Vendettas called Hit List where you can replay previous Vendetta missions or new mission’s specific for Hit List mode. However, some of the levels in Hit List can only be played with two or more people while the others can only be unlocked after beating certain Vendetta missions.
Overall the Vendetta campaign only takes around an hour to complete and each character has their own skill tree they can upgrade as well as special skills only certain characters have.
While the game features a more in-depth and creative storyline, it does suffer from some typical flaws. One being that light in the game used to be an environmental element, where you had to look where you were walking where Darkness 2 decided to make lights more of a hassle than they needed to be, everywhere had lights, cars, lamps, and even enemies. Instead of taking that element and making it into a tactical option where you had to choose between hiding in cover where lights were or fighting the onslaught of enemies but instead you are forced to take time away from fighting enemies to take out certain people who run at your holding lights on their shoulders which just hamper both your ability to see and fight which can be overwhelming and overly frustrating when it doesn’t need to be.
Boss fights were a nice addition as well as the skill tree which made the option for a ‘New Game +’ all the more enticing. The multi-player also added a nice sense of replay value as well as a fun option to share your bloodlust with your friends or random people. While the campaign was a tad short and most of the levels a bit too linear, but overall the game definitely felt like a sequel and it lived up to its previous game even with a new development studio and game engine fueling it.
If you were a fan of the previous game, I would suggest playing the game, either by renting or purchasing the game, there is a lot more depth to the story and the new Darkness powers are worth checking out.
If you are new to the series, it is worth renting just to get some murderous bloodlust out of your system, but unless you are really into cel-shading or the story itself there might not be much for you here, there are a lot of exposition so whether you like it or not.